Thursday, 25 February 2010

Miatsyal Nahanknerou Gotch-ue‏


Armenian News

By Liana Aghajanian
ianyan magazine
Feb 22 2010

For some, the 40 days of Lent, in which Christians abstain from
any and all animal products is a time of spiritual reflection and
cleansing. For others, including many of those who make up a new
generation of Armenians, it's a 40 day challenge to see if discipline
and self control over power one's desire to get on the kebab train.

Whether your reason is religious or dietary or even just for fun,
forgoing meat, dairy, eggs might be a bit of a struggle - or at least,
that's the way it looks on the surface. Armenian cooking is so rich
in vegetables and flavor, that not only does it do well without meat,
it even tastes better. Shocking right? I know. Here's a short guide
to help expand your palate to the wonderful meatless world of food.

Lentils Already a staple in Armenian diets, this filling legume
can be used as a substitute for meat in dolma, rice dishes and even
ground up and flavored with spices to make chee koufte (or kufta),
a dish that is usually prepared with lamb or ground beef.


Tofu is an amazingly versatile component of any vegetarian and vegan
diet. It lends itself perfectly to Armenian cuisine, by its ability
to be cubed, friend, shredded and baked. Tempeh, which is also made
from soybeans has not only a firmer texture, but contains higher
protein and fiber when compared to tofu. Tempeh, which originated
from Indonesia, is ideal for stew type dishes, otherwise known as
"khoresht" in Persian cooking.

Quinoa If you're tired of eating rice and want to spice up your dishes,
quinoa is a pleasant and fulfilling substitute. High in fiber and iron,
it is also gluten-free, it can be prepared in a rice cooker.

Here is a great recipe involving black beans

Milkless Milk You might have a hard time during lent if you're a fan
of milk, but not as hard as you think. When you're in the mood for hot
chocolate, cereal or baking, soy milk is the most popular alternative
to cow's milk, but you also have options in almond milk, grain milk
as well as rice milk. Not only do get the added benefit if trying new
flavors, you can try them if you're lactose intolerant or watching
your cholesterol, as almond or grain milk do not contain either.

Butter Armenians love butter. Butter in the morning, butter in pastries
- you name it, and we put butter in it. Because it is such an essential
part of breakfast, butter perhaps might be the hardest food to give up
during Lent. As an alternative, peanut butter, almond butter as well
as sunflower butter can be used, but I urge you to try Earth Balance,
which is made from natural vegetable oils.

Pine Nuts In addition tofu, pine nuts are another alternative for use
in dolma as well as salads. Chances are you have probably tasted pine
nuts in sweet dishes like baklava or lady fingers, but this edible
seed is a great addition to savory snacks as well.

Mushrooms In addition to tofu, mushrooms are a great replacement
"meat." They can also be easily used in stews, sandwiches, omelets
(made with egg replaces of course) and also be filled with spinach
and soy cheese for a delicious mushroom turn over.

Soy Cheese Don't believe what you hear - soy cheese is actually
very good.

Although you can definitely taste the difference between regular and
soy, it will satisfy your cheese craving and perhaps win you over far
after Lent is over. If you're in the U.S., some of the best brands
of soy cheese include Vegan Gourmet, Trader Joe's sliced soy cheese
alternative and Tofutti (which also sells a great ice cream). If
you're desperately missing Feta and feeling creative, you can make
it yourself using tofu.

Although this list is definitely an incomplete one, it's a great place
to start. If you're not doing Lent for religious reasons or to prove
to yourself that you can, at least do it for animal welfare. Recipes,
suggestions and conversation welcome.

IWPR Report
Feb 24 2010

Already hit by recession, people fear pain from massive price rise.
By Naira Melkumyan in Yerevan

The company that has a monopoly on selling Russian gas to Armenia has warned
it will raise prices for ordinary consumers by 40 per cent in April, sparking anger in
the country.

Armrosgazprom, a Russian-Armenian joint venture, has sought permission for the
increase from the official regulator and also wants to raise the gas price for
businesses by 20 per cent. It is expected to be approved.

With Armenia still struggling to haul itself out of recession - the economy contracted
by 14.4 per cent in 2009 - the proposals could severely harm the economy, as well
as ordinary gas users, observers say.

"This is just insane. My husband has an unpredictable salary because of the crisis.
I don't work, and such a rise would seriously hit us in the pocket, and then a massive
increase in prices would follow. What would we live on?" asked Rita Sargsyan,
a 55-year-old Yerevan resident, reflecting a widely held view here.

Armrosgazprom said the price of gas will rise from April 1 to 136 drams (35 US cents)
per cubic metre from the current 96 drams. The increase follows a decision by
Gazprom, the Russian energy giant that owns 80 per cent of Armrosgazprom, to hike
prices for
gas exported to Armenia by 17 per cent from the beginning of April.

Lusine Harutiunyan, spokeswoman for the energy ministry, said Armrosgazprom had
the right to raise prices and the government could do nothing to stop it, since it was
only a minority shareholder.

Experts said the price rise would immediately lead to increases for electricity, transport
and consumer goods, especially since three water companies have already indicated
that they want to raise their tariffs by around two-thirds.

"Considering the increase in unemployment in the country, which in 2009 was already
ten per cent, and the fall in the rate of economic growth, a gas price rise will directly
impact on a significant part of the population," Abgar Yeghoyan, head of the Union for
the Protection of Consumer Rights, said.

The budget for this year includes no provision for increases in pensions, unemployment
benefits or anything else that could compensate for the price rise.

"When we raised this question during discussion of the 2010 budget, the government
said that they were concerned by the question of inflation, but it is already clear that the
price rise for gas as the main energy source will lead to increases in the prices of other
products," said Artsvik Minasyan, a deputy in parliament from the opposition
Dashnaktsutyun party.

"The government must propose salary and pension increases, or at least work out a
mechanism of subsidies."

The government has said it is concerned by the price increases, however, and promised
to work out measures to limit their impact.

"The question of prices is permanently at the centre of the government's attention and
it is preparing a package of measures aimed at controlling inflation," Prime Minister
Tigran Sargsyan told parliament.

But he later said he was not considering subsidising gas prices from the budget to help
keep bills low.

"I have not considered this, and I advise everyone against it. I am not a supporter of that,"
he said.

According to Vazgen Khachikyan, head of the state social security service at the ministry
of labour and social affairs, the effect of the gas price alone - without any associated rise
in electricity cost - would add one per cent to inflation.

But he said that between 2007 and 2010 pensions almost doubled, at a time when
inflation did not come close to that rate.

Last year, the state pension and unemployment benefit were 70 and 55 dollars a month

The government is forecasting that prices will rise by four per cent and, according to
Vardan Bostandjyan, deputy head of parliament's economic committee, it is unlikely that
there will any increase in pensions before next year.

The International Monetary Fund, which is currently lending to Armenia, forecasts inflation
of six per cent this year.

The fact that gas prices are rising twice as much for consumers as for companies has
angered consumer rights groups.

"We want to understand why, when the Russians raise prices by 17 per cent, the
Armenian company increases prices for companies by 20 per cent and for people
by 40 per cent," said Armen Harutiunyan, the state ombudsman.

Armrosgazprom said that the steeper increases for private users was a reflection of
the higher cost of providing them with gas.

It also said that it was not seeking to profit from the price rises, and was reacting to a
20 per cent contraction in the market caused by the financial crisis, which had resulted
in it ending the year with a loss.

But, despite the explanations, its price rise caused public figures to question the
wisdom of Armenia's dependence on Russia for gas supplies.

Vahan Khachatryan, a representative of the opposition Armenian National Congress,
said that if Armenia had more diversified supplies, it could resist such a dramatic price

"Today Russia has a monopoly. Eighty per cent of the gas we use comes from there
but we also have a pipeline from Iran, which is hardly used," he said.

Iranian gas started to arrive in Armenia in 2008, but it sends less than three million
cubic metres a day, while Russia sends an average of more than double that.

Harutiunyan, the energy ministry spokeswoman, said, "Of course the opposition gives
this problem a political subtext, but the situation is different. Russia as our strategic
partner for many years has sold us gas at a discount. We were receiving 1,000 cubic
metres of gas for 110 dollars when Europe was paying 300 dollars."

Naira Melkumyan is a freelance reporter.

IWPR Report
Two decades on, president intervenes to speed up promised accommodation.
By Yeranuhi Soghoyan in Gyumri and Ani Harutyunyan in Yerevan

Armenians still homeless from the huge earthquake of 1988 were appalled when they
first heard that promises they would finally be housed last year were going to be broken.
But then they saw the condition of the buildings intended for them, and were relieved.

According to officials and local people, some of the blocks were not properly built. Critics
also said that there were insufficient quantities to house all those who needed homes.

Eventually, just a week before the New Year deadline for the residents to move in,
President Serzh Sargsyan intervened and demanded an improvement in the standard
of the flats' interiors and facilities.

The head of Sargsyan's administration, Karen Karapetyan, held a meeting on
February 19 to check on construction progress, and spoke to all the regional governors
as well as the director of Glendale Hills, a private building company criticised for its work.

Karapetyan stressed that the government would try to find ways to stop problems repeating
themselves, including improved oversight of building work.

The earthquake, which struck Armenia on December 7, 1988, shattered houses across
the whole north of the then-Soviet republic, destroying 17 per cent of all the living space
in the country. In Leninakan - now called Gyumri - more than 20,000 flats were destroyed,
along with 11,000 private houses and 120 administrative buildings.

More than half a million people were left homeless, of whom 7,000 still lack accommodation
after more than two decades but the government has promised that all will have homes by
2013. Of the total, 4,200 are in Gyumri and whole chunks of the city are still made up of
domiks - old shipping containers turned into temporary accommodation that has become

A key part of the rehousing scheme was the Mush-2 complex being built by Glendale Hills,
but it was not finished by the end of the year as promised.

"To be honest, I would be scared to live in such a house. How solid can a building be that
was built in the winter? A builder told us that the paint is coming off the walls, and they have
to paint them again and again," said Susanna Gevorgyan, one of the Gyumri residents
waiting for a flat.

At the moment, the building site in the Mush-2 district has around 20 four-storey buildings,
but some of them are still lacking windows and roofs. There was no road until the president
announced he intended to visit late last year, when one was built in just ten days.

The deputy head of the state construction control agency of the construction ministry,
Artashes Sargsyan, confirmed the houses had been built in a hurry.

"The builders were forced to heat the apartments with wood stoves round the clock so
the plaster dried. There were cases when the laminate was put directly onto the wet walls.
Now all these deficiencies are being corrected," he said.

His agency has taken all the building projects under its own control to alleviate the problems
that local people blame on Glendale Hills for employing inexperienced builders.

"I have a university degree, but I was unemployed," said Albert Vahanyan, justifying why he
took work at the building site despite having no experience.

"They just asked me if I can paint walls, and I said I could, and they gave me a job. There
were lots of people like me, who don't know anything about building, there. None of us
knew that you can't paint directly onto concrete."

President Sargsyan was furious when he visited the Mush-2 district building site on
December 23. He said all the problems caused by shoddy building work had to be sorted
out, and the flats had to be provided with heating and other facilities.

A spokesman for Glendale Hills acknowledged mistakes had been made, and said it was
possible IWPR's informant had been hired without the correct checks having been made
of his qualifications.

"As far as this one individual is concerned, maybe he was not a specialist. There were
errors in the interior decoration so the company is paying to put them right. And as for those
individuals who oversaw the interior decoration work in which mistakes were discovered,
they have been moved to different jobs," he said.

Sargsyan told officials to make sure the improvements were made by May 15, but the
would-be residents are not too hopeful, saying they have learned not to put too much trust
in government promises.

"Under the Soviet regime, the disaster area was supposed to be restored in two years,
but everything got mixed up. One system replaced another, and it was impossible to move
money from one to the other," said Flora Sargsyan, who works for Armenian Caritas, a
non-governmental organisation.

She was a schoolteacher at the time of the disaster, which killed at least 25,000 people,
and now helps provide food and clothing to poor families.

"Children have been born in these domiks and have suffered from various diseases
because they are living in dangerous and polluted accommodation, and the problem is
not being solved. My neighbour, for example, was given a flat but was forced to return to
the domik. Such cases are frequent. Getting a flat does not mean the problem is solved,
since these people have nowhere to work," Sargsyan said.

One domik resident, 67-year-old Eva, who asked that her surname not be used, has lived
in her makeshift home for 21 years together with her son and daughter. When they moved
into the domik, they considered it a step up from the temporary accommodation they had,
but they have grown tired of it.

In September 2001, the government gave them a 3,000 US dollars certificate with which
to buy a flat, but it was not enough, so they decided to repair the domik and make it more
comfortable. The money allowed them to connect it to the gas, water and the sewerage
systems and they have lived there ever since.

Residents of other regions have also failed to get their new homes. Some 182 residents
of the village of Akhuryan in the Shirak region have been waiting for 20 years, and were
initially angry that the delays in Gyumri would stop them getting new homes.

"We were dissatisfied at first when we heard that Glendale Hills would not start the houses
for the homeless in Arkhuryan parallel with its work in Gyumri, and that the project would now
only be started in May this year," said Artsrun Igityan, the head of the local administration.

"However when we found out about the defects in the flats in the Mush-2 block, we were
glad that they cancelled the project."

Meanwhile, Vahan Tumasyan, head of the Shirak Centre non-governmental organisation,
has appealed to the government to investigate the Mush-2 district buildings' ability to
withstand another earthquake. He said that, in meetings with construction workers, he was
told that poor materials had been used, and called for an expert examination to put potential
residents' minds at risk.

Glendale Hills denied there was any risk to the buildings from earthquakes. ArmSeisShin,
a prominent Armenian company that assesses earthquake risk, said in a statement to IWPR
it had examined the buildings and concluded they were capable of withstanding an earthquake
as strong as the one that caused the initial devastation.

"Worries about the buildings' ability to withstand earthquakes have no foundation. This work
was done impeccably. The building site will be open to journalists for a day at the end of
February. They can come, film, take photographs, and see with their own eyes how the
construction has been done," the Glendale Hills spokesman said.

Yeranuhi Soghoyan is a correspondent from the Hetq newspaper. Ani Harutyunyan also
contributed to this article.
Noyan Tapan
Feb 23, 2010

Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians,
traveled to Jerusalem on Monday, February 15, where he presented
His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the Armenian Patriarch of
Jerusalem, with the "Medal of St. Mesrob Mashdots".

According to the report of Primate of the US Eastern Diocese,
accompanying His Holiness were Archbishop Navasart Kjoyan, Primate
of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese in Yerevan, Armenia, and Bishop
Arshak Khachatrian, Chancellor of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, and
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate, were invited by His
Holiness Karekin II to attend the presentation ceremony as members of
the Brotherhood of St. James of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Armenian President Serge Sargsian issued the medal to Patriarch
Torkom on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Patriarch's
enthronement, and in recognition of his lifetime devotion to, and
leadership of, the Armenian Church and nation.

"We have come to this Holy City in order to celebrate the 20th
anniversary of the enthronement of His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom
Manoogian as the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and to honor his
91st birthday," His Holiness Karekin II said. Concluding his remarks,
he reflected on the need to pray together for peace in this region
and in the world.


Noyan Tapan
Feb 23, 2010

Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians,
traveled to Jerusalem on Monday, February 15, where he presented
His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the Armenian Patriarch of
Jerusalem, with the "Medal of St. Mesrob Mashdots".

According to the report of Primate of the US Eastern Diocese,
accompanying His Holiness were Archbishop Navasart Kjoyan, Primate
of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese in Yerevan, Armenia, and Bishop
Arshak Khachatrian, Chancellor of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, and
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate, were invited by His
Holiness Karekin II to attend the presentation ceremony as members of
the Brotherhood of St. James of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Armenian President Serge Sargsian issued the medal to Patriarch
Torkom on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Patriarch's
enthronement, and in recognition of his lifetime devotion to, and
leadership of, the Armenian Church and nation.

"We have come to this Holy City in order to celebrate the 20th
anniversary of the enthronement of His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom
Manoogian as the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and to honor his
91st birthday," His Holiness Karekin II said. Concluding his remarks,
he reflected on the need to pray together for peace in this region
and in the world.


Please, Print This Communigué In Your Coming Issue!



Rant Number 386 23 February 2010

May his days be few; may another seize his goods!

May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow!

Psalm 109, vv.9-10

Imprecatory prayer. A peculiar kind of prayer. The act of uttering a curse, a malediction, like in Psalm 109 above. Praying for bad things for your enemies. Not one of the priest’s favourite prayers, no. But it has some fans in the US, apparently. The object being President Obama, huh! A liberal journalist raged about it online. ‘Wingnuts’ he called the Obanophobes. Hmmm...Had anybody cursed Bush or Cheney when they were in office, would the same delicate writer have blown his top? But that’s by the by.

Cursing prayers are quite Anglican. I kid you not. Just look up the peerless Book of Common Prayer. You’ll spot an interesting service: ‘Commination or Denouncing of God’s Anger and Judgments against sinners.’ To be used on the first day of that almost forgotten Christian Ramadhan, Lent. It is a litany of curses. From idolaters to extortioners, maledictions go out to all. Service still traditionally used on Ash Wednesday at St Sepulchre’s Church, Newgate. A quaint temple near the Old Bailey, London’s Criminal Court. Newgate was once a famous prison - guess originally the curses were meant as a kind of deterrent. Whether they worked is another matter.

The priest has a confession to make. During the Iraq war he was tempted to stand in front of Downing St., then PM Blair’s lair, and recite in a loud voice the Commination service. Yes, vehemently denouncing God’s anger towards Phoney Tony for his sinful, aggressive adventure. Well, maybe ad-libbing a little imprecation of my own. I toyed with the idea but my spiritual director dissuaded me. ‘Fr Frank, don’t do that. Pointless. They’ll ignore you. Or they may take the opportunity of putting you away in a loony bin.’ Yeah, like they did in the old Soviet Union to communism’s critics. What’s new? Anyway, good Fr Augustine’s counsel prevailed.

To be fair, the BCP curses are not directed at anyone’s personal enemies. It is God’s anger against general categories of sinners they express, not personal vindictiveness. The Psalmist’s attitude towards his own enemies is the problem. Never mind the Psalmist’s prayer is against enemies who return evil for good. (‘In return for my love they accuse me, even as I make a prayer for them’ v.4.) But maybe my remarks reflect the individualism of a modern age. The children of the Hebrew Umma saw themselves as one. One holy nation, one consecrated race, one chosen people. Hence the distinction individual/collective would have been meaningless to them. The cause of God’s honour and that of his faithful servants for them was one and the same thing.

I suspect the Psalmist’s unpleasant feelings originated from to the correct idea that wilful opposition to a holy God must invite divine reaction. Unfortunately the Hebrew conception meant that punishment calls for exact requital – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth – and so God’s honour had to be vindicated in strict retaliatory fashion. But the Psalmist’s vindictiveness at times is chilling. ‘Blessed be he who takes your little ones and dashes their heads against the stone’. Just requital or not for what the Babylonians or the Edomites had inflicted on the defeated Jews, a God who commands something like that cannot be the God of Jesus Christ. Sounds more like Ahriman, the Evil Deity of the Manicheans – who else?

Why the imprecations directed especially at Obama, I wonder? Abortion? A great sin, certainly, but many of his predecessors also did virtually nothing about it. Including Republican presidents like Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes. The Middle East? But the American Right is staunchly pro-Israel and Obama so far has done nothing for the Palestinians. Afghanistan? Stupid and wrong but...would any other President act differently? Healthcare? The chief is trying to help the have-nots a little – does that deserve divine wrath? The economy? It would take a superman, a Hercules to taken on the likes of Goldman Sachs and Obama ain’t no Hercules.

Rather than bad, Barack strikes me as ineffectual. Looks like a one-term President. Anyhow, a US President is less powerful than people think. He is severely constrained by the Senate, Congress, Supreme Court, all that gaff. If the nasty curses have to be let loose, dear Wingnuts, there is a wider scope...

Imprecatory prayers. Bad prayers. In more senses than one. First, because, as St Teresa of Avila sharply observes, when God wishes to chastise people he sometimes will answer their prayers. So, all of you who pray vindictive prayers, remember: God knows something you don’t know. The Lord watches and controls the whole, infinite, universal chain of causes and effects, from the lifespan of a gnat on earth to an exploding supernova in the Andromeda galaxy. A person’s death may look desirable from a limited, human point of view, but its remote effects only the Creator fully grasps. And you might not like them. A possible President Joe Biden might have worse in store than Obama. So might ghastly Presidentessa Hillary. As Italians say: ‘Il peggio non e’ morto mai’.

Second, how does prayer work? Mysteriously, the cliché goes. But, according to one trendy school of thought, prayer works chiefly by changing he who prays. So, if a person prays according to Christ’s invitation: ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you’ he will become more and more Christ-like. A better, holier person. Conversely, if he prays bad, vindictive prayers, he’ll gradually find himself become like the opposite of Christ – someone very nasty indeed.

Lastly, phoney Tony again. Look, it is not personal – he has done nothing to me, hence I am not, alhamdulillah, like the vengeful Psalmist. It is just the way he has governed. How he behaved before the Chilcot Inquiry speaks volumes about the man. Totally unrepentant. And smug. Like watching Saddam gloating over hammering the Kurds. Indeed, the former PM implied he’d do the same job on Iran, if he got the chance.

Hard man to wish well to, but I will. ‘God will judge me’ he once said.

I pray He will.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

Nakhabadrasdoutioun Abaka Medz Irakordzoumnerou‏

Trust Deficit in Traditional Political Organizations

Team Keghart Editorial, 22 February 2010

Our Diaspora political organizations, namely the traditional three parties, have had dramatic highs and lows during their long history. Currently, especially with the advent of the Internet, they face new challenges to their operations, if not existence. In the past few years non-affiliated societies and diverse groups have mushroomed on an unprecedented scale, asserting the Diaspora needs new solutions and new leadership. Already leadership and strategic guidance of Diaspora communities has begun to slip away from the parties. This undeniable fact is naturally a cause for concern to people who have thus far enjoyed near-hegemony in dictating the affairs of Armenian communities spread around the globe.....Read more >>

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Reminder: Save the Date - Hye Tad Evening - March 6, 2009‏

Hye Tad Evening
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Saroyan Hall, 825 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco

Special Guest
Raffi Hovannisian

Armenia's First Minister of Foreign Affairs
Founder and President, The Armenian Center for National and International Studies
Founder, Heritage Party

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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sargsyan in the spotlight‏

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Agence France Presse - 12 February - A historic deal to normalise ties between Turkey and Armenia is under risk of collapsing as the two neighbours blame each other for blocking the reconciliation process whose future also depends on Washington and Moscow, analysts say.
After months of Swiss mediation, Ankara and Yerevan signed two protocols in October to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their shared border, in a major step towards ending decades of hostility stemming from World War I-era massacres of Armenians under Ottoman Turks.
The protocols must now be ratified by both countries' Parliaments, but the process has stalled for the past five months with the two countries accusing each other of trying to modify the landmark deals.
"The deal is on the brink of collapse unless the Parliaments of Turkey and Armenia ratify the agreement", said David Philips, a US regional specialist in an opinion piece for the Boston Globe.
The reconciliation process hit the rocks following a January ruling by the Armenian Constitutional Court which upheld the legality of the protocols but said they could not contradict Yerevan's official position that the 1915-1917 mass killings of Armenians was genocide -- a label fiercely rejected by Ankara.
An angry Turkey immediately accused Armenia of trying to re-write and set new conditions on the deals, while Yerevan charged Ankara with blocking the process and warned that the rapprochement was under threat of collapse.
Upping the ante, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said on Wednesday in London that the Armenian Parliament would vote on the protocols if the Turkish Parliament went ahead with the ballot.
In a written message to Sargsyan on Thursday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Ankara was determined to work toward reconciliation "as long as the aims and obligations of both countries are preserved".
Turkey fears that the Armenian court ruling has shaken the foundation of the protocols and dealt a big blow to a planned independent commission to study the World War I mass killings of Armenians, because it effectively dictates what the result should be.
It is also wary of the court's reference to "western Armenia", which some in Turkey see as Armenian claims on eastern Turkey.
Philips also fears that the rapprochement could be threatened by a possible recognition of the killings as genocide by the US Congress on April 24, the day on which Armenians commemorate the killings.
Left alone by its ally, Turkey would "feel justified to abandon the protocols", Philips said.
Yerevan, on the other hand, has accused Ankara of setting preconditions to the protocols by linking normalising of Turkish-Armenian ties to progress between Armenia and neighbouring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute -- a link that Yerevan rejects.
"The Turkish government will not put the protocols before the assembly before there is a step forward from Armenia on Nagorno-Karabakh", said Mehmet Ali Birand, a political commentator writing in the English-language Hurriyet Daily News.
"They (Ankara) are not expecting a complete solution of the dispute but what they want is the beginning of an Armenian withdrawal from certain positions in Nagorno-Karabakh", he added.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict dates from the early 1990s, when ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan seized the region from Azerbaijan in a war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives.
In a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan, Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993, dealing a heavy economic blow on the impoverished nation.
Since 1992, a group headed by France, the United States and Russia -- Armenia's close ally -- have been mediating to find a solution, but to no avail.


Source: Asbarez - YEREVAN (Combined Sources) - In a thinly veiled warning to Azerbaijan, President Serzh Sargsyan said on Thursday that a military assault on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh would trigger "serious counterattacks" with strong elements of surprise.
Sargsyan and his leading political opponents praised the Armenian Armed Forces as the country marked the 18th anniversary of their official establishment. They visited the Yerablur military cemetery in Yerevan to pay their respects to Armenians killed in the 1991-1994 Karabakh liberation struggle.
"Today the Armenian army is the iron guarantee that ensures our survival and development and is a sobering deterrent against any hot-headed adventure", Sargsyan said in a written address to the nation dedicated to what is a public holiday called Army Day.
"The author of any provocation must definitely expect serious counterattacks and big surprises from the Armenian army", he said. "Failure to realize that is at least naivety".
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, who is a prominent war veteran, issued a similar warning earlier this week. He said Armenian forces have significantly beefed up defense fortifications around Karabakh in recent years and are prepared for renewed fighting regularly threatened by Azerbaijan.
Sargsyan visited Yerablur together with other Armenian leaders to lay a wreath at the tomb of Armenia's first Defense Minister, the late Vazgen Sargsyan. He also used the occasion to decorate and promote several senior army officers.
"Today you are awarded for your achievements, and it's thanks to your achievements that our country becomes stronger both politically and psychologically", he said during the award ceremony. "With these awards our country and people express their appreciation and gratitude to those, who devotedly serve the Republic of Armenia, who have devoted their lives to the mission of defending and maintaining peace in our country".
In his written remarks, Sargsyan had underscored the army's pivotal role in maintaining the balance of peace in the region. "The prevention of war is the greatest victory for any normal country that respects the rights of nations and states, and the Armenian officers and soldiers are doing it effectively", he said.
Prime Minister, Tigran Sargsyan, echoed the President's sentiments. "Each of us is visiting Yerablur with pride because we have a victorious army", he said. "We must do everything to have a strong army that is a reliable guarantor of the security of our state and the Armenian people".
"The borders of our Motherland are peaceful today, and our people create their free life in Armenia and Artsakh thanks to the devoted service of our brave soldiers and commanders", he said, praising the army as the "pride of our people".

Guarantees Ratification of Protocols if Turkey Does So First

YEREVAN (Armenian Weekly) - In an interview with the Al Jazeera New Network conducted on Feb. 12, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said he “absolutely” wants President Barack Obama to recognise the Armenian Genocide.
Answering a question about Obama’s campaign pledge to recognise the Armenian Genocide, Sargsyan said Obama had followed up on his pledge but “not to the extent he had promised before he became the president. But he stated unequivocally that he hasn’t changed his mind.” Responding to a question follow-up question on whether Sargsyan wants Obama to use the word “genocide” in reference to 1915, Sargsyan said, “Absolutely.”
Speaking about the protocols, Sargsyan said it is the Turkish side that is stalling the process, noting that “as the leader of the political force which currently holds parliamentary majority, I rule out any possibility of the Armenian Parliament not ratifying the protocols if they are ratified by the Turks without preconditions.”
During the interview, Sargsyan reiterated that Russia and Armenia are “strategic partners” and that the Armenian American community serves as a bridge for good relations with the U.S.

To view the interview click here Below is the full text of the interview.


ArmInfo - 12 February - European lawmakers on Wednesday endorsed a resolution that called on Turkey to withdraw its troops from Cyprus.
As the Turkish media report, EU authorities urged to take specific measures for successful completion of negotiations on Cyprus settlement, otherwise, it may have serious consequences for negotiations on Turkey's joining EU. However, Turkish State Minister & Chief Negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis said this resolution is unacceptable for Turkey. "Turkey does not have a plan or opinion to withdraw troops from the island. Turkish troops in the island assume a very important task to restore peace there. EU process is important for Turkey, however, it is not so important to sacrifice Cyprus", the Minister said.
On Sunday night, the Armenian national final for the Eurovision Song Contest was held. Nine acts competed and the jury and the SMS voters decided that Eva Rivas will represent the country in Moscow with the song Apricot stone written by A. Martirosyan and Karen Kavaleryan.
During an interview to an Armenian TV channel, Eva and her producer revealed that the song Apricot Stone calls for peace and love all over the world. It is also supposed to symbolise the Armenian Diaspora, as Eva lives in Russia, but misses Armenia since she lives abroad.
Eva has an Armenian and Greek background. Lyricist Karen Kavaleryan is already well-known to the Eurovision Song Contest community. He co-wrote the lyrics for
the Russian entries in 2002 (Northern girl, 10th place) and 2006 (Never let you go, 2nd place) and wrote the Belarusian lyrics in 2007 (Work your magic, 6th place), the Armenian lyrics in 2007 (Anytime you need, 8th place), the Georgian lyrics in 2008 (Peace will come, 11th place) and the Ukrainian lyrics in 2008 as well (Shady lady, 2nd place).



GIBRAHAYER e-magazine

(from last week's issue) - Simon Aynedjian for Gibrahayer e-magazine -
We doubt there will be a contest this Sunday for the selection of the song that will represent Armenia in this year's Eurovision Song Contest on 2010, not because the rest of the songs are not worthy, but simply because Eva Rivas has got it all. Voice, the lyrics, the music, the moves and the looks.
All it takes is to listen to her entry (click
with which Armenia can hope for another Eurovision presence, much bigger than her wings.
And why not, with all the ingredients in her plate Eva Rivas should not only make it through the Armenian selection between the ten songs on Sunday, but do very well once there.
Gibrahayer's choice and forecast for Armenia's ambassador to this year's Eurovision song contest 2010 is clear.

Eva Rivas with the song "Apricot Stone" .
Lyrics: Garen Gavaleryan
Music: Armen Mardirosyan

Avantagan Hantiboum RAG-i Yev Hay Avedaranagan Hamaynk-i Michev‏


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Wednesday, 17 February 2010

FATHER FRANK’S RANTS - Attack on the Kaaba

Rant Number 385 16 February 2010

Are terrorists planning a massive assault against the holiest Muslim shrine, the Kaaba? An apocalyptic, mind-blowing prospect. A spiritual and material enormity. The Kaaba is the sacred building in the centre of the Great Mosque at Mecca. The Islamic Holy of Holies, in the direction of which the faithful at prayer must face. For Muslims it the navel of the earth. Any outrage on the shrine would be infinitely sacrilegious. Further, it would set off a worldwide explosion of violence and unrest on a scale as yet undreamt of.

In early 2002, the prelude to the war on Iraq, the pro-Chechen Kavkaz Agency carried an alarming news item about a presumed conspiracy to blow up the Kaaba. It hinted at certain not so ‘occult’ infidel forces aiming at destabilising key Middle East countries. Now, as NATO’s offensive on the Taleban escalates, similar rumours have resurfaced elsewhere. Whether well-founded or fantastic, I know not. Conspiracy-mongers are tiresome. Besides, merely political explanations are often pedestrian and predictable. The priest confesses to a bias – he favours metaphysical explanations. They go deeper.

Sacrileges against the Kaaba are not new. In the year 278 of the Hegira, Muslim heretics called Qarmatis entered the great mosque and profaned it, killing several worshippers. They then seized the famous Black Stone, originally kept in Paradise, and took it away, perhaps to Bahrain. 22 years had to pass before the sacred stone was returned to Mecca.

The next major profanation happened in 1979 – the start of Islam’s fifteenth century. 400 armed zealots calling themselves the Ikhwan (Brothers) took over the Great Mosque. Their leader was Juhaiman, a charismatic, brave and learned poet and preacher. Juhaiman declared his young brother in law, Muhammad, to be the awaited Mahdi. The saviour who comes at the end of the world to fight impiety and to restore religion and justice. Alas, this putative Mahdi failed the ultimate Mahdist test: victory. Saudi King Khalid, to put down the insurrection, and not trusting his own people, had to employ thousands of foreign Pakistani troops and – horror of horrors – infidels. French special anti-terrorist forces helped to flush out the Brothers from inside the shrine. A bloody job. Hundreds died in the battle, including Muhammad, the would-be Mahdi. 67 Ikhwan prisoners were later beheaded, pour decourager les autres, in the public squares of various Saudi cities.

The Saudi monarchy claimed the uprising was the work of kharijis, fanatical dissenters from orthodox Islam. For his part, the leader of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, accused Israelis and Americans of wanting defile and grab Islam’s holiest shrine. Be that as it may, both the rebels’ seizure of the Mosque and its subsequent storming by the royalists filled the Muslim umma with dismay. But the plot goes on. If the current rumours about a planned assault on the Kaaba have any foundation we may be in for upheavals that will shake the world...

Where does the metaphysical significance of such events lie? The sacred, its symbols and emblems have always aroused the deep hatred of the wicked – as well as the hostility and derision of the idiots. The French revolutionaries – they of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ fame – invented the very term ‘terrorism’, after the wholesale massacre of their opponents in the 1793 Great Terror. But they also perpetrated another, highly symbolical crime. Demoiselle Candelle, a rouged dancer of the Paris opera, was carried with all honours in procession to the medieval Cathedral of Notre Dame. An exultant mob placed the girl on the high altar of the desecrated church and proceeded to worship her as a goddess. Yes, the goddess reason. So it was that Reason, in the shape of a harlot, was deified. Elevated to divine status and adored by the French revolutionaries, in the place of the rejected God of their fathers, the God of the ancient, revealed religion of Moses and Christ.

The lesson is clear: the great rebellions that have shaped the modern Western world have at bottom being rebellions against Transcendence, against the very Ground of man’s Being, against God.

My friend Ahmed, with whom I occasionally share my thoughts, shrugs his shoulders: ‘Frank, this stuff about attacking the Kaaba is sheer nonsense. Who’d be so mad to do that? That Kavkaz crowd need a reality check. Have you looked at their website? They are crazy Islamists. Jihadists. Nutters. I would not credit a single word they say.’

‘Well, I agree the action would be lunatic’, I responded, ‘but then you could first ask, in the old Latin tag, Cui Bono? Who would benefit (or might think he’d benefit) from that, however mad? Bibi Netanyahu? Christian Zionists? Bin Laden? Sarkozy? Goldman Sachs? The Kremlin? The non-existent Elders of Zion? Not an easy one to ponder but if you did know the answer, maybe it would not look so senseless an action, after all...’

‘Second, although the current rumours don’t issue from Kavkaz, I have checked out their website. Those fierce, bearded faces, the leaders of the Caucasus Emirate, are impressive. I also looked at the Q&A with their Qadi, Judge Saifullah (Sword of God). It’ll shock you - I kind of like the guy. His targeting of ‘paganism’ is rather congenial. He prioritises Sharia law over state law, of course – a mark of Islamism but you have to remember what the Chechens are up against. Since Tsarist Russian brutally conquered Chechnya two centuries ago, the law of the state has meant repression. Stalin’s deportations in WWII are notorious. And post-Communist Russia has continued in the brutalities. Saifullah is right. Today’s Russia no longer has a state ideology. Putin is trying to feed in the cult of democracy and capitalism but it is not working – actually it is beginning not to work in the West, either.’

Wallahi! Frank’ Ahmed said, grinning, ‘You are beginning to sound like an Islamist! If you knew how bad those people are...’

‘No enemies on the Left, Communists used to proclaim, dear Ahmed. I suppose the priest might say that there are no enemies on the side of the Sacred.’

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

Mezi Bedk E Tarm Shounch‏

RAG Mamoul (


Lawyers from England, Ireland, Turkey and US Tackle Armenian Genocide within the Framework of International Law‏

Dikran Abrahamian (


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Lawyers from England, Ireland, Turkey and US Tackle Armenian Genocide within the Framework of International Law‏
From: Dikran Abrahamian (
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